Dental Practice Fraud Causes 200k Embezzlement Warning

dental embezzlementThe Colorado Dental Association recently sent an email alert to member dentists regarding a $200,000+ embezzlement that occurred in a dental practice related to the processing of credit cards.

According to the Metropolitan Denver Dental Society, experts estimate that more than 50% of dentists are embezzled with an average loss of $50,000.

But, because embezzlers often steal relatively small amounts over a long period of time, the misappropriation of funds goes unnoticed.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that 75 percent of all employees steal at least once, and that half of these steal repeatedly. The Denver District Attorney’s Office website warns, “embezzlement is at epidemic proportions accounting for 20 percent of all cases filed by the Denver District Attorney’s Economic Crime Unit.” In 1970, one in 200 employees was dishonest; it is estimated that today, one in six employees is dishonest.

The MDDS states that the most common method of embezzlement in a dental practice occurs through theft of cash, checks or supplies.

Here are a few embezzlement scenarios that occur in dental practices –

  • Cash is pocketed from patients.
  • Petty cash is stolen.
  • Cash or checks are removed from the daily deposits and replaced with subsequent receipts.
  • Insurance fraud.
  • Endorsements are forged.
  • Writing duplicate accounts payable checks or writing checks to phony vendors.
  • Stealing supplies and re-selling or returning to vendors for refunds that are pocketed by employees.

In a survey The Wealthy Dentist performed in 2010, 59% of the dentists surveyed said they had discovered evidence of embezzlement. With such a high degree of fraud, how does a dentist diminish the risk of embezzlement?

The American Bar Association offers the following checklist on how to prevent fraud and embezzlement –

  • Adopt an effective, documented system of internal controls to protect against acts of dishonest staff.
  • Bank and credit card statements can be delivered to the business owner’s home or separate address for personal review.
  • Checks and debit transactions should be reviewed with the statements.
  • Checks should require two signatures, or be reviewed by the owner.
  • A copy of the bank reconciliation should be attached to each monthly bank statement and reviewed by two parties.
  • Finance or accounting personnel should not be signers on all bank accounts.
  • Checks received in the mail should be immediately endorsed by a two-person team who opens and processes the mail.
  • After checks are properly endorsed and verified, the bookkeeper should take charge of the checks for deposit.

Have you recently experienced embezzlement in your dental practice?

For more on employee embezzlement and how to prevent it see – The Metropolitan Denver Dental Society Watchdog

Dentists Weigh In on the Dental X-ray and Brain Tumor Debate

More Dentists Weigh In on the Dental X-ray and Brain Tumor DebateGiven the recent negative publicity surrounding dental X-rays and brain tumors, our recent The Wealthy Dentist survey covered whether dental practices will change how they use X-rays.

We asked:

“According to a recent study, dental X-rays may be linked with brain tumors. Will this news change how your practice uses X-rays?”

Here’s how dentists responded:

  • 66%: Definitely no!
  • 25%: Not at this point, although this study has led us to consider it.
  • 9%: Yes, we will be changing our X-ray protocols.

Two thirds of dentists debated the validity of the data. Urban dentists over rural dentists were the most vocal about their skepticism in this survey.

“This study is highly flawed. The number of cancers per population is so small. You could die from an abscess more than your chance of getting this cancer. I read there are 5000 cancers per 350 million people?”

But some dentists did take the X-ray study into consideration —

“We will take this opportunity to reinforce our office position as an industry leader in all phases of patient safety.” (General dentist)

“It’s quite possible, some correlation between brain tumors and old ways to take X-rays. Let’s don’t forget we went from regular films to high speed to a digital generation decreasing every time the amount of radiation.” (Florida dentist)

“We use digital X-rays and take updated X-rays only when necessary.” (Ohio dentist)

“We are using digital radiographs and feel that we do everything possible to minimize unnecessary exposure.” (Texas dentist)

“I believe we have to make the right choices for our patients: how often – how many medical conditions. We also have to look at our society and what devices we use on a regular basis: cell phones, microwaves, electric blankets, TVs, air plane flights, not to mention our landfills loaded with hazardous materials. With technology comes risks but also life-saving devices and techniques.” (Massachusetts dentist)

“We decided on digital films prior to this announcement.” (General dentist)

IF the study is correct, it will certainly affect the number of radiographs a dentist will record.” (Pediatric dentist)

“We’ve been doing the 18 mos to 2 yrs for many years. Only a select few of our dental patients require more frequent radiographic diagnosis.” (Arizona dentist)

“Further thoughts, yes, on this study that was flawed in concept.” (Oklahoma dentist)

“I’ve used a digital sensor for over a dozen years and have always been ultra-conservative in ordering X-rays based on the dental patient’s current and past oral conditions, not on a fixed timetable.” (Illinois dentist)

“We already stretch the limits on our X-rays and consider the history of the patient in doing so.” (California dentist)

“We are empowering our clinical team with information so that they may respond to concerns from patients. We also posted our rebuttal on our Website and Facebook page. We preform x-rays annually and/or on as needed basis.” (West Virginia dentist)

“Should always practice conservatively and limit taking dental (or chest) X-rays to the minimum at all times. I do not agree with taking X-rays ROUTINELY. (California dentist)

251 dentists responded to this survey by The Wealthy Dentist. To hear what the more agitated dentists had to say about the dental X-ray and brain tumor debate, see last week’s article, Dentists React To Dental X-ray Brain Tumor Study as Flawed Science.

What are your thoughts on the dental X-ray and brain cancer debate?

Warning: Dentists Get Scammed for $50 Million

Dentists Get Scammed for $50 Million
Who can you trust?

Dentists and physicians are legendary for losing money to scam artists. But who would have thought two dentist would take their peers to the cleaners for $50 million.

What school did these guys go to?

Two Canadian dentists are being investigated by the Ontario Securities Commission (OSC) for an alleged $50 million Ponzi scheme.

According to the Star, in 2006 Peter Sbaraglia, DDS and his wife, Mandy Sbaraglia, DDS joined forces with Robert Mander, the mastermind of a Ponzi scheme that snatched the $50 million from naive investors.

The OSC’s Statement of Allegations states, “Sbaraglia, acting on behalf of CO Capital Growth, used investors’ funds to repay other investors and to pay for his and his family’s personal expenses and not for the benefit of CO investors. In addition, Sbaraglia and his spouse received over $2 million as purported profits earned by them in the Ponzi scheme.”

Fifty investors, many of who were dentists familiar with the Sbaraglias, may have lost up to $50 million in the scheme. Regulators calculate the amount as closer to $40 million.

The OSC claims that as much as $7 million of investors’ money remained in the Sbaraglias’ personal accounts and was never properly invested. Approximately $2 million was considered profits by the Sbaraglias and used for personal expenses. Another $2.4 million was lost in poor trades, and $585,000 was used to buy open venture securities. Much of the remainder of the money was used for business expenses, according to the OSC.

Rick McIntosh, Mandy Sbaraglia’s brother and former head of the Toronto Police Association, also lost money investing with CO Capital Growth. McIntosh and his wife invested about $1 million with the Sbaraglias.

Both Peter and Mandy Sbaraglia claim they are innocent victims and blame Robert Mander for the financial collapse of CO Capital Growth. Still, in December, a judge put all the Sparaglias’ assets into receivership, which included their $2.9 million home.

It’s never a good idea to invest money with family or friends, but if you do invest, you should be aware of the possibility of losing your money.

Have you ever been approached to invest in something offering a crazy rate of return on your investment? Do you think you could be duped into investing in a Ponzi scheme?

For a full report on the Sbaraglias’ story, visit the Star.

Dental Care: Dentist Uses Paper Clips for Root Canals

Dental Care: Dentist Uses Paper Clips for Root CanalsPaper clips for dental patient root canals and Hydrocone for the dental staff — does this sound like a normal dental practice to you?

It doesn’t to Maryland Superior Court Judge Richard Moses, who is scheduled to sentence former dentist Michael Clair on one count of tampering with evidence, one count of witness intimidation, two counts of assault and battery, three counts of illegally prescribing controlled substances, three counts of larceny, and five counts of Medicaid fraud.

Sounds like the legal system is having a good time working Dr. Clair over. But was it deserved . . . absolutely!

Dr. Michael Clair fraudulently billed Medicaid for $130,000 between August 2003 and June 2005. At that time he was licensed to practice dentistry, but had been prohibited from doing work on Medicaid patients. Investigators allege Clair performed the work and then had other dentists in the practice submit bills to Medicaid.

The investigation also charged that Clair twice used paper clips rather than the more expensive stainless steel posts to strengthen teeth given a root canal. Investigators also charged Clair with prescribing Hydrocodone, Combunox and Percocet to staff members, who in turn gave some of the medicine back to him.

Clair has admitted guilty to all the charges.

Read more: Fall River dentist who used paper clips pleads guilty before trial

Introducing The Latest In Dental Controversy: Mini Dental Implants (video)

mini dental implantsMini dental implants newer than traditional implants and they’re more controversial too, with 24% of dentists reporting that they never recommend mini dental implants for their dental patients.

Some doctors love mini implants, while others think they are an inherently inferior product.

Watch this dental survey video below for more on mini dental implants and how doctors feel about them –

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